Standing with Wet’suwet’en
Dramatic standoff between B.C. First Nation and RCMP over pipeline access sparks rallies across country
A dramatic confrontation between RCMP and members of the Wet’suwet’en nation over pipeline access in traditional territory in northern British Columbia has spurred solidarity rallies across the country.
From Ottawa to Yellowknife, Halifax to Vancouver, demonstrators braved winter weather to show their support for members of the Wet’suwet’en nation who have been manning a pair of checkpoints that block Coastal GasLink from building a pipeline to the future site of the LNG Canada facility in Kitimat, B.C.
Dozens of heavily armed RCMP officers enforced a court injunction to remove obstacles to the pipeline’s construction on Monday, tearing down barricades and making 14 arrests. While the elected band council signed a $13-million agreement to support the pipeline, some members — and the entire hereditary leadership of the Wet’suwet’en — opposed the project. Calgary saw one of the tensest rallies of the nearly 60 planned around the world Tuesday, as supporters of the land defenders gathered outside TransCanada’s downtown headquarters at the same time as a counterprotest by oil and gas supporters in favour of the liquified natural gas pipeline that sparked the standoff. The solidarity rally was held outside TransCanada’s headquarters — of which Coastal GasLink is a subsidiary — at noon.
Outside TransCanada’s headquarters in downtown Calgary, several dozen supporters of the Wet’suwet’en land defenders and counterprotesters waved signs and chanted slogans at one another.
Despite speaking into a megaphone, rally co-organizer Michelle Robinson was routinely drowned out by chants of “Build that pipe!” and “Rule of law” from the counterprotesters as she tried to address other supporters. In turn, they responded with chants of “Solidarity! Consent!” and a handful of supporters beat hand drums and sang. Some supporters also took part in a smudging ceremony, burning sage and wafting the smoke over their bodies to cleanse themselves. Inside TransCanada’s atrium, a crowd of curious employees looked on.
Robinson said the solidarity rally wasn’t intended to be in opposition to pipelines. In fact, she told reporters, some Indigenous people are supportive of them.
“SOLIDARITY! CONSENT!” Demonstrators
Protesters take part in a rally in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en at Beaver Hills House Park in Edmonton on Tuesday.